Speedy has always struggled with handwriting. The first few years I just dismissed it as part of being a boy, and I didn't want to compare his handwriting to his sister's. A couple of years ago I realized it was more than that, but I continued to hope it would improve on its own. Since then I've done a lot of research and it's quite possible he has a mild case of a diagnosable condition. At this time, we've elected not to have him tested or diagnosed but to work more diligently with him at home to see if we could find some means of improvement. When I got the chance to review Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting, the summary I saw specifically mentioned Italic writing is great for those with handwriting issues.
The book begins with some lovely tips for teaching your child to read and write. Speedy has no issues with reading so it wasn't our focus while using the book. Following the tips, there is a list of scheduling options. One is for 5 days a week for a student who is already reading. It recommends about 5 minutes a day. That's close to what we've been doing. The beginning of the book gives each letter in Italic form with a diagram for proper writing of the upper and lower case letters. It begins with vowels and then moves on to consonants. Since Speedy is "unlearning" bad habits while learning new, good writing skills, we've moved slowly. He usually does the first page (tracing and copying) and then uses one of the lined pages (included for copying) to rewrite those letters again. When he's gotten the letter right, we move on. Sometimes he only needs the original page and one copy page. Sometimes he needs 2 or 3 copy pages. I'm actually very happy that I received this as a download so I can reprint as many pages as I need.
We began this school year trying to do cursive. Even though he's in 4th grade, he just wasn't ready. Introducing Italics instead has been a wonderful step. He's still learning a new style of writing (so doesn't feel "behind"), but it is improving his writing skills all around. There is a beauty to Italics. I laugh because I never really thought of writing in Italics. It's more of a font in my mind. However, the approach focuses on simple curves and straight lines rather than perfect circles. This is huge for a child that struggles to write!
After the suggested schedule, there is a section titled "Four Ways This Book Can Be Used". "To Teach Children to Have Fast, Legible, Attractive Handwriting" is number 3. These are the suggestions we followed. There are further sets of instructions including the idea to introduce the letters with Chapter 2 (which we have been doing) and then to skip to Chapter 6 if your student can read. Chaper 6 gives some variations on the way Italics can look and then the student does copywork on "The Night Before Christmas". This is where students will learn to slant their writing. I think Speedy will really excel with that type of writing. This curriculum also talks about joining Italics letters together. I think he will do much better with that style of writing than with cursive right now. Along with joining letters, this curriculum also goes over writing smaller letters. This is also an area Speedy needs to work on so I'm looking forward to him hitting this section.
The book is intended to teach your child to write and read in 60 days. As I stated before, we are really taking our time. He's so excited about it though. He wants to get a calligraphy pen to practice that way as well. Edged pen writing is addressed in some of the later chapters. This is one of the few times that a curriculum has made such a difference that I could cry tears of joy! While his handwriting may not be perfect or beautiful right now, he's well on his way and has made tremendous progress in a month. For the $29 price tag (as of 9/29/16), I wish I had known about this book and bought it ages ago!
To recap, this curriculum is to help your child read, help your child write, improve your child's penmanship, or to improve your own penmanship. If your child is struggling to write well or if cursive doesn't seem like an option for them, I highly recommend a copy of Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting. Italics may be the answer to your prayers as well!
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